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Seahawks continue their overhaul at LB with Kevin Pierre-Louis trade

Kevin Pierre-Louis wasn't a bust, but he never developed linebacking instincts in Seattle. (AP)

Kevin Pierre-Louis was exactly the kind of athlete the Seahawks expected.

It was the instincts that turned out to be an issue and the reason the team traded him to Kansas City for linebacker D.J. Alexander on Friday, two days before training camp begins in Seattle.

At the very least, the Seahawks upgraded their special teams because while Pierre-Louis was a valuable contributor in that area, Alexander was an AFC Pro Bowl selection last season.

If Alexander can find a role as a backup middle linebacker, that would be an upgrade over Pierre-Louis, who was a liability in the opportunities he got in three seasons with Seattle.

Now, Pierre-Louis was not a bust. He was not a problem. He just never developed into the linebacker the Seahawks envisioned when they chose him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft.

That’s not necessarily his fault. He was a pass-rusher at Boston College, a guy who came off the edge, and the Seahawks looked at his speed and his athleticism and imagined him using those tools in pass coverage. In fact, a role in Seattle’s nickel defense was one of the very first things coach Pete Carroll discussed when it came to getting Pierre-Louis on the field.

What Seattle saw as a potential strength was instead a flaw. Pierre-Louis never developed the feel for pass drops that a linebacker needs in Seattle’s defense. That was especially true given the fact that Pierre-Louis stands 6 feet and weighs 230 pounds, which makes him a little light to be playing at the line of scrimmage.

Pierre-Louis had reached his ceiling here in Seattle. He was a solid, if injury-prone, leader on special teams. He was capable of filling in for the Seahawks’ defense, but he was not someone they envisioned as a potential starter. The one start he made at linebacker came against Carolina in 2015, and he played poorly.

The Seahawks have made several moves to upgrade their linebackers this offseason not just with their additions of Michael Wilhoite, Arthur Brown and Terence Garvin in free agency, but also in their decision not to re-sign Mike Morgan thus far.

The trade of Pierre-Louis for Alexander is one more step in that direction.

When training camp begins on Sunday, no position will have undergone more offseason change than linebacker. Starters K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are back. So is Ronald Powell, whom the Seahawks signed off the Bears’ practice squad last December. Then there’s Dewey McDonald, who is a special-teams ace but kind of a tweener between linebacker and safety. Throw in former Coug Kache Palacio, who was in training camp last year, and then half a dozen newcomers and you’ve got a pretty wide open competition to make this team at linebacker.

And Pierre-Louis wasn’t going to be part of that mix. Not at linebacker. As athletic as he was, he never showed the instincts needed at the position.